Maria Holic, Vol. 2
written by Minari Endou
Kanako Miyame is still adjusting to life at the Ami No Kisaki school for girls. She came to the school in hopes of finding true love as her parents did. However, Kanako is not looking for love from a male teacher. She seeks the hearts of her fellow students. She can't help it if touching men gives her hives, and cute girls make her swoon.
Settling in wasn't easy either. By pure misfortune, Kanako had stumbled upon the popular Mariya while dressing to discover she was actually a boy in disguise. Mariya, being the powerful granddaughter of the former headmistress, forces Kanako to be her room mate in order to prevent her from spilling the beans about her gender-bending. Between the constant verbal abuse from Mariya and bullying from other girls in class, Kanako's first few weeks at the new school really suck.
In volume two of Maria Holic, Kanako has finally made some friends of her own. Mariya still torments her, but she manages to find a little peace among her newfound comrades. Then the annual physicals come up, and she starts to wonder how Mariya plans to hide her secret identity from the staff. When the day for the physicals finally comes, Kanako discovers the other side of Mariya's true identity. Having accepting the fact that she's going to be stuck under Mariya's cruel thumb, Kanako decides to start digging into the cross-dresser's past to find out why she and her childhood best friend became bitter enemies.
As serious as this book sounds so far, Maria Holic is actually a slice-of-life comedy rather than a sad yuri (girls' love) drama. If it wasn't for the fact that Kanako prefers women to men, this book would not have its Older Teen rating. This manga is actually very safe and not graphic in the slightest. Readers who enjoy series such as Azumanga Daioh, Kodocha, or even School Rumble may enjoy this too, even though it's not quite as funny.
This manga offers a large cast of characters ranging from forgettable to amusing, which is a little much to take in this early. Being a school comedy, a large cast is normal, but so far it has been a tad daunting trying to remember the names of all the side characters. The artwork is average with plenty of comical "super deformity." There is nothing graceful about it, but being a comedy series rather than a romance, it's acceptable.
Overall, Maria Holic is a fair series with deceptively gothic covers, but doesn't quite reach the levels of hilarity or drama as one might hope. There is plenty of setup to discover the deeper sides of all the characters, but will it pay off? This is series would be appropriate for teens seeking a slightly different school drama without anything too heart-wrenching. It has potential to get there, but we'll have to wait for future volumes to see if it worth investing the time.